Rivett was a journalist, who in 1942 volunteered to work for the Malayan Broadcasting Commission which had been set up in Singapore to counter Japanese propaganda. On 9 February 1942 he broadcast the news that Japan had invaded the island, then escaped Singapore. The refugee ship was bombed, but he was one of those who survived. However, after several weeks of evasion, around 4 March 1942 he was captured by the Japanese on Java and sent to work on the infamous Burma Railway. Here he vividly describes his experiences and those of the men imprisoned with him. His story is told starkly, with illustrations of the prisoner hell-ships and Japanese torture of the prisoners.